Heidi Bunch/MCIN
School in Mineral County starts on Monday, Aug. 19. Safety fences have been installed around all schools within the district. Parents should allow themselves extra time this year so that they may work with the new features installed.

As Mineral County School District Superintendent Karen Watson begins her second school year with the district, many changes are affecting the district.

Students in Mineral County start back on Aug. 19. Parents who have requested teachers at Hawthorne Elementary School can stop by the building where the class lists are posted.

One of the biggest changes this year will be free breakfast and lunch provided to all elementary and junior high students.

“All elementary and junior students will have free lunches under the CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) program. We are having “breakfast after the bell” this year [in the elementary school]. The schools have opted for grab and go to the classroom. Containers will have milk and brown bag/Styrofoam meals which will have what is required. The cart will be wheeled to the classroom and students will eat during first period after the bell rights while the teachers are doing roll and administrative duties is when students will have their breakfast.” Watson explained. “Junior high students will get between first and second period during their passing period. Meals will be served out of the Home Economics room.”

Another implementation will be a “Buddy Bowl” in each classroom where apples, oranges, granola bars and such not eaten during breakfast will be put into the bowl for anyone to eat throughout the day.

High school students and adults will still be required to pay, unless they qualify for free and reduced lunch. It is Watson’s hope that with implementing “breakfast after the bell” will help children get the nutrition needed to be able to focus on schoolwork instead of hunger.

The benefits of this program allow students to have access to free nutritious meals; no stigma; less time in lines and more time to eat. Parents will no longer have to fill out applications or worry about lunch accounts. Schools that are participating in this program must do so during a 4-year cycle; count total breakfasts and lunches served daily.

Safety is a big concern for Watson. All school buildings have had safety fences installed where the outside gate is locked and the inside gate will have a push bar so students and teachers can exit if needed. The gates have not been installed yet due to modification as Lyon County School District experienced that children are very intelligent and had figured out how to get inside the fenced area even if the gate was locked.

All schools will be single-point entry and each person who wishes to enter the district must sign in. Hawthorne residents should be aware that fencing between the tennis court and band room has been installed.

The next safety step through a submitted grant will be all new PA systems at all schools that will hook to all the schools in case of an emergency. Cameras will be installed in the hallways and entrances to all buildings as well as inside and outside bullet resistance film on all windows and doors. Locks are also another item on her list that she hopes to correct.

“I know this sounds like we just really hardening the school. We are just starting to prepare ourselves in case a situation happens. The more difficult we make the schools ability to be entered the less likely they will be,” she explained. Watson took the Independent-News on a tour of the newly painted and refurbished “Rockets Gym” where windows will be replaced and the floor has been shined up.

Watson took the time to sit down with past teachers who remember the gym during its highlight. The school board room has also been updated with new chairs, paint and a television for teleconference.

Parents and guardians will see that the school district is transitioning to a new website, which is: www.mineralcountysd.schoolinsites.com. Watson hopes that by Christmas vacation the transition will be completed.

Anyone who wishes to sit down and discuss the new safety changes, see upgrades or such can reach out to Watson at 775-945-2403 or stop by the Arlo Funk District Services Center located on A Street in Hawthorne.